Mountain and cave rescuers are still seeking funding to put them on a par with Scottish colleagues

Mountain and cave rescuers are still seeking funding to put them on a par with Scottish colleagues

Mountain rescuers say they will continue to work with MPs in the search for funding for their volunteer teams in England and Wales.

A recent reception at the Palace of Westminster attracted about 50 members of both the Commons and the Lords during a week in which rescuers mounted a display in Parliament.

The event was hosted by Penrith Conservative MP Rory Stewart, leader of the all-party parliamentary group on rescue services, who said: “I believe that this was an important event for Parliament because mountain rescue represents one of the very solid examples in the country of volunteers, people unpaid doing something which is completely vital to the public interest.

“For Parliament to concentrate on that and to get nearly 50 MPs in a reception, meeting mountain rescue people, I think it is going to be very important in changing perceptions of what volunteers do for us in society.”

Mountain Rescue England and Wales chairman David Allan said: “We were encouraged by the level of interest, the obvious support and the understanding of our current status as volunteers providing a vital service.

“We now need to clarify the next steps in our campaign to achieve regular and significant funding from central government.”

Mike France, head of MREW fundraising, said there was still disparity between cash given to Scottish teams and those in England and Wales.

“Volunteer rescuers, about 3,600 of them in England and Wales, are available 24/7 throughout the year for local callouts, he said.

“And they have to train for many different situations and needs. So it seems crazy that they also have to find time for fundraising just to keep their teams going and we’re hoping that the week’s discussions in Westminster will have shown MPs the huge discrepancy between the financial support given by government to Scottish rescuers – about £16,480 per team – and the much more limited funding to English teams of just £2,246 per team.”

“If government could guarantee a level of funding from the public purse closer to the Scottish figure, we’d be able to underwrite investments in vehicles and essential kit and subsidise essential training and insurance and our volunteer rescuers would be able to focus on getting the job done rather than having to worry about money.”

Mr Stewart invited Prime Minister David Cameron to the meeting last week, but he was unable to attend. However, he said in a message: “The work carried out by the volunteers and everyone involved in this service is immensely worthy of praise and recognition.”

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